Marcos Valle

Vento Sul

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When Marcos Valle recorded 1972's Vento Sul, he'd been a wildly successful, well-established songwriter, producer, and recording artist for nearly a decade, furthering the horizons of bossa nova and samba in the pre-MPB era. Due to that success, each successive recording brought higher expectations. In the face of mounting pressure, Valle dropped out for a bit, took a vacation, and in the process wrote the music for the album that was to become his hardest left turn to that point. Nothing could have prepared listeners for what transpired on Vento Sul (translation: South Wind). Even after the revolution tropicalia had wrought, this album was radical. The set was composed by Valle and brother Paulo Sérgio Valle in Buzios, then a mellow, out-of-the-way beach town that offered young people great surfing and a cosmic communal hippie vibe provided by the Valles and 14 companions who had taken the two-month summer retreat with them. When Valle returned to Rio, he sought to re-create the laid-back dreamy collaborative atmosphere of Buzios in the studio. He'd been backed live by Brazilian psychedelic, proto-prog rockers O Terço (translation: The Rosary), who included drummer and future guitar hero Vinicius Cantuária. He also employed arrangers Ian Guest and Hugo Bellard and studio aces such as guitarist Claudio Guimarães, drummer Robertinho Silva, and flutist Paulo Guimarães. Some of the music here retains undeniable elements of both bossa and samba ("Malena," "Rosto Barbado," and even the tripped-out "Paisagem de Mariana"), but they are wrapped in expansive psychedelic rock and baroque pop textures. Art rock makes its presence known in opener "Revolução Orgânica," with its contrasting hyper flute and hard rock guitar -- but make no mistake, this is not tropicalia; if anything it reflects the influence of O Terço most, and here too, samba makes its voice known in the bridge. There are Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys sounds, textures, and harmonies throughout, but best heard on cuts such as "Mi Hermoza" (even with its mean electric guitar breaks) and the instrumental "Bôdas de Sangu." "Democústico" is a hallucinatory, political, spoken word number, with phased wah-wah guitars, flutes, harpsichord, and Latin percussion. The title track, by contrast, with its layered piano, guitars, and stretched-to-the-breaking-point waltz rhythm, is so dreamy, spacious, romantic, and sparse, it's the set masterpiece. Vento Sul was greeted with hostility by Valle fans and critics alike, but time has proven that criticism unfounded. It remains one of Valle's most provocative albums, but it's also one of his most beautiful, mysterious, and enduring ones.

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